Although Martin Luther King Day is a recent addition to our national roster of days off -- it has already devolved into uncertainty: Should we work or shouldn't we? Are banks open or not? (It's optional.) How about the post office? (Closed.) Unions? (Depends.) And on a personal level: Should we make it a three-day weekend, or even a four-day holiday and get away?
There are many ways, of course, that we might remember and celebrate Martin Luther King. Imagine if every American citizen donated or collected one dollar on this day each year and donated it to the Martin Luther King foundation -- to preserve and restore the sites of importance to the life of Martin Luther King and the struggle for civil rights in America, and after those are secure, how about the sites of importance to African-American history. I can see children rattling little metal coin boxes, not unlike those I grew up with devoted to Unicef or the Israel National Fund, with a picture of King on one side and the words of one of his great orations on the back. There are worse ways to remember Dr. King.
Or perhaps on this day we need a more visceral reminder of what life was like in these United States before Martin Luther King. Perhaps on this day, we should return to segregation -- whites-only theaters, lunch counters, sitting in the back of the bus, except that on this day, no one, regardless of race or color or creed or sex or age is allowed in the sections the whites used to occupy. That would make for a powerful reminder.
Perhaps we need a national parade from Selma led by the President of the United States, members of Congress and the Supreme Court -- that would send a message. And if we want to make it truly American perhaps the parade is capped off by a sporting event -- The Super Bowl? Or a multi-cultural free concert -- and backyard picnics and barbecues all over the nation listening to the music and celebrating the ways in which not too long ago -- less than fifty years ago -- a (mostly) non-violent revolution occurred, a revolution led by a man, inspired in part by Gandhi as much by the roots of the American Revolution itself, a success that in itself sparked the possibility and the seed of other non-violent revolutions all over the world, bringing peace to countries behind the former Iron Curtain, in South Africa, and perhaps one day in the Middle East. That would be a way to celebrate and remember.
I could go on -- but I've got to go. I'm taking my daughter, who's out of school today, to see "Hoodwinked."